At this time last year Sam Economy was recovering from a hockey-related injury, and while he was optimistic of a full recovery in time for baseball season, nothing was certain for the Hampden Academy center fielder.
Now, the Broncos’ senior is not only back on the ice, he’s also looking forward to his final year of high school baseball — already knowing he’ll have the chance to play in college.
Economy is set to attend Clarion University, an NCAA Division II school located approximately an hour north of Pittsburgh, where he plans to play ball while studying business marketing in an accelerated five-year master’s program.
“Pretty much after my sophomore year I knew I wanted to play baseball in college,” said Economy, who will receive athletic and merit-based financial support. “It’s really always been a dream of mine so just to get this opportunity fulfills my dream.”
Economy has established himself as one of the top defensive outfielders in the region, both at the high school level and during the summer. Last year he helped the R.H. Foster Hampden Riverdogs capture their first Senior American Legion state championship.
“I could not tell you how many hits that kid has stolen and how much range he has in center field,” said McLean Poulin, Economy’s former high school coach at Hampden Academy. “There were so many balls hit into gaps where assistant coaches and myself and anybody else in the dugout would look at each other and say that’s a double if not a triple, and the next thing you know Sam’s catching it.”
Economy has batted leadoff at Hampden Academy for the last two seasons and helped the Broncos’ earn the No. 2 seed in Class A North last spring.
“He’s extremely smart, especially when it comes to being on the basepaths,” Poulin said. “He reads pitchers and he reads tendencies very well. He’s one of the best at being able to steal third on his own because he gets such good jumps because he reads the pitchers so well.”
Economy’s attraction to baseball should come as no surprise. His father Peter played for Hampden Academy and in the American Legion ranks, while his mom Kelly played softball at Machias. His sister Sara pitches for the HA softball team.
His immediate baseball future was jeopardized last January when he suffered a broken left leg and ligament damage during a goal-scoring celebration at a midseason hockey game.
Economy was sidelined for the next two months but recuperated in time to return for baseball season, gaining medical clearance to resume running just before the first game of the Broncos’ preseason trip to Florida in April.
He quickly built up his endurance to play two full games during a four-game schedule.
“I think that was a matter of him having confidence in it because by the time we left Florida I’d say he was totally back,” Poulin said.
Economy, who batted better than .300 and was one of the RBI leaders last summer for R.H. Foster, continued working to regain the speed that had been pivotal to his development as an outfield defender and leadoff hitter.
“I was able to get full mobility back with stretching, and I was also able to attend many prospect camps and get better times for my 60-yard dash,” Economy said.
He posted the fastest 60 time (6.79 seconds) at a prospect camp hosted by Merrimack University, and he subsequently connected with Clarion staff in August during a similar event at the University of Maine.
“The other thing that sets Sam apart is his hard work and dedication to the sport of baseball,” Poulin said. “There’s no other proof of that than how he came back from his ankle injury. I saw firsthand how hard he worked to make sure he was back and at full strength. If he keeps up that mentality and work ethic, then no doubt he should be fine.”
Clarion competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, which last year had two nationally ranked teams in Mercyhurst and Seton Hill. The Golden Eagles finished last spring with a 19-29 record (9-19 in PSAC play) but had the second-highest single-season win total in program history.